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(L to R): Alexander Rossi (USA) Marussia F1 Team Reserve Driver with Mario Andretti (USA) Circuit of The Americas' Official Ambassador. 04.09.2014. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Preparation Day.

Andretti: I hope Haas sign an American driver

(L to R): Alexander Rossi (USA) Marussia F1 Team Reserve Driver with Mario Andretti (USA) Circuit of The Americas' Official Ambassador. 04.09.2014. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Preparation Day.

Motor racing legend and Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti laments the fact that there is no American driver on the Formula 1 grid, and admits he is mystified why Alexander Rossi is being overlooked by teams.

Andretti told ESPN, “Having an American team there, maybe some of that will change and I hope they do sign an American one day because I think you have a vast fanbase here in the United States.”

“Even for Formula One, I think it’s understated. But I can see it really really magnifying if there was an American driver there, especially now there’s the race at Circuit of the Americas.”

“Alexander Rossi is one perfect example of one [American] talent being overlooked for some reason. He’s done very well in GP2 and all that, he knows the circuits very well and has the experience. But when you’re not considered by a top team there’s no way you’re going to be able to show what you can do.”

Andretti suggests that teams should be allowed to run a third driver as was the case in the sixties, seventies and early eighties. Indeed many top drivers, including him, were introduced into F1 as a third driver – Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve spring to mind.

andretti-ferrari

“My first Formula 1 race was with Ferrari as a third driver, a top team. Imagine if one of our talents, even Alexander, would have been invited by Mercedes to be third driver at some events it might have been another story, he might have shown differently.”

“Now, having done quite a good season here in the States and having signed for another season with Michael, it looks like he didn’t have any offers from a top teams [in F1].”

Team owner Gene Haas has his reasons for not opting for an American driver, “If we had to do everything American, we wouldn’t have enough money or enough time for anything.”

“We’re here really to build a race team. If an American driver came along to have the pedigree to do this, yeah, we would seriously consider that. But at the moment, there aren’t any F1 drivers.”

“You’re always looking for experience. It’s a driver’s market right now because we’ve lost two very experienced drivers and the newcomers really don’t have much experiences.”

“There’s lots of drivers out there but you take that chance of the unknown. There’s a lot of people that can compete well in GP3 and GP2. They qualify well but racing in Formula One is a whole different sport,” explained Haas.